Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 3 to 7
- Grade: p to 2
In a beautifully detailed wordless picture book, a tumbledown building becomes home sweet home for a found family.
A lonely little girl and her grandparent need to fill the run-down apartment in their building. But taking over the quarters above their store will mean major renovations for the new occupants, and none of the potential renters can envision the possibilities of the space—until one special couple shows up. With their ingenuity, the little girl’s big heart, and heaps of hard work, the desperate fixer-upper begins to change in lovely and surprising ways. In this bustling wordless picture book, JonArno Lawson’s touching story and Qin Leng’s gentle illustrations capture all angles of the building’s transformation, as well as the evolving perspectives of the girl and her grandparent. A warm and subtly nuanced tale, Over the Shop throws open the doors to what it means to accept people for who they are and to fill your home with love and joy.
About the authors
Born in Hamilton, Ontario and raised nearby in Dundas, JonArno Lawson's most formative experiences as a child occurred in Florida which he visited for an extended stay at the age of eight. Happy to be missing almost an entire year of school, he filled his days at the beach digging holes and collecting shells and coconuts, travelling in glass-bottomed boats and touring nature parks that featured free-roaming monkeys and parrots. He wore a ship captain's hat at all times, and a green pouch in which he kept dozens of ticket stubs, a musket ball, brass souvenir coins that bore the faces of various American presidents, and other treasures which he hoards to this day. JonArno is a two-time winner of the Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Children's Poetry, for Black Stars in a White Night Sky in 2007 and again in 2009 for A Voweller's Bestiary. In 2011 his poetry collection Think Again was short-listed for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award. JonArno lives in Toronto with his wife Amy Freedman and his children Sophie, Ashey and Joseph, all of whom assist the author with phrases, topics and sometimes even complete lines for use in his poems.
Qin Leng was born in Shanghai, China. At the age of five, she moved with her family to Bordeaux, France, where she spent the next four years. Soon after, she moved to Montreal, where she spent the rest of her childhood. Having been born in Asia but raised in the West, she uses both cultures as her source of inspiration. Looking at her illustrations, one can see the presence of both East and West.Qin Leng comes from a family of artists, where the visual senses have always been of the utmost importance. She grew up watching her father work with acrylics, pastel, and ink. Father and daughter often spent their days drawing side by side. Drawing first started as a hobby, but soon became a way of expression.Despite her many years of study to become a biologist, Qin decided at the age of 20 to follow the same path as her father and enrolled in the School of Cinema to study Film Animation at Concordia University. She has produced animated shorts, which were nominated in various nationa
In this wordless tale, a chosen family forms. . .A few carefully placed pride rainbows make queerness explicit: a barely noticeable rainbow belt; a rainbow hat, tiny in a distance shot; and, finally, an unmistakable (and unprecedented for this shop) rainbow flag hanging outside the business at the very end. Careful readers may deduce that the Asian tenant is a transgender man, signaled through an extremely subtle plot point. Poverty and the child’s early loneliness are subtle too, but warmth never is. A wordless, singing infusion of love and energy into a home.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A dedication to trans activists and some characters who are nonbinary in dress and clothing make a simple message of love and acceptance resonate subtly. In this wordless book, there is comfort in familiarity, but sometimes a little change can shed new light on everything. . .This wordless story manages to speak volumes. Detailed images fill each page, requiring careful study and observation to understand the entire story. Multiple frames appear on each page, creating a more robust narrative than is often found in picture books. . .This meticulously detailed tale spreads a heartwarming message of renewal, hope, friendship, and compassion.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
A child helps create community in this wordless tale by Lawson (Over the Rooftops, Under the Moon). . .With a sure line and growing touches of color and adornment as the couple brightens their space, Leng captures the snowball effect of the girl’s and the couple’s efforts. It’s a story about warmth, hospitality, and the way human beings can learn to change at any age. Though it’s resolved with compassion, the grandparent’s initial reluctance may call for some context setting.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
As in Sidewalk Flowers, author Lawson conceptualized the story for this wordless picture book. Here, words appear only as text within the illustrations (a sign displays the name of the titular shop as Lowell’s General Store; a card in the shop window reads “Apartment for Rent”). Leng’s watercolor and ink illustrations channel Quentin Blake and David Small in their loose lines and expressive characterization. . .Deft use of panels helps establish the sequence of event.
—The Horn Book